15 May 2018

Singing the Psalms auf Deutsch

Bad Liebenzell
Last month I was privileged to spend time in Germany at the Internationale Hochschule Liebenzell (IHL) in Bad Liebenzell, a beautiful village nestled in the Black Forest. The IHL is a ministry of the Liebenzell Mission, which was founded in 1899 and has its roots in a late nineteenth-century revival in Germany. It has branches in Canada, the Northern Mariana Islands, and six other countries around the world. The Mission is active in church-planting, Bible translation, education, evangelism, children and youth ministry, medical care, air service, substance addiction therapies, ministry to immigrants and community development in twenty-five countries. Remarkably, it also has monastic-like brotherhoods and sisterhoods, a fellowship of deaconesses, a retreat centre and a literature distribution ministry. It appears to be independent of any denomination, yet it does plant church congregations.

While there I found a stack of small red hymn books, titled Evangelisches Kirchengesangbuch, published for the Evangelische Landeskirche in Württemberg (1987). The layout, including the musical staves, is very like the Dutch Liedboek voor de Kerken. The volume contains a liturgy of word and sacrament in the front and numerous hymns thereafter. A section in the back includes a series of scripture readings in lectionary format organized according to the church year. Also an all-too-brief section of Psalmlieder, using some of the tunes of the Genevan Psalter. I requested to take a copy home with me, and my hosts graciously granted my request.

Psalmlieder

11 May 2018

Political Visions and Illusions, second edition

The second edition of Political Visions and Illusions is due out early next year. In the meantime, the new cover can be seen at right.

The new edition will include a reworking of the chapters in the first, with the addition of discussion questions after each chapter. A key difference from the first edition is that the redemptive narratives underpinning the ideological visions will be brought more explicitly into the foreground. This theme was present in the first, but it will be more visible in the second, enhanced by a series of illustrations highlighting these stories.

Finally, recognizing that this book has been used profitably in theological seminaries, I have added "A Concluding Ecclesiological Postscript," in which I take up the question of the role of the institutional church—as opposed to the larger corpus Christi, or body of Christ—in addressing political life, with references to the Barmen Declaration (1934), Mit Brennender Sorge (1937) and the Belhar Confession (1986). A new foreword will be written by Richard J. Mouw, former president of Fuller Theological Seminary and author of many books, including He Shines in All That's Fair and Abraham Kuyper: A Short and Personal Introduction.

I will let everyone know when the book is published. Stay tuned.

5 Mar 2018

Don McLean: The Waters of Babylon

Here is another version of Psalm 137, sung by the American popular singer and songwriter Don McLean:

26 Feb 2018

By the Waters of Babylon (1978)

Here is a song from four decades ago that we may have forgotten. It's not exactly a metrical psalm, but it is certainly rhythmic with a distinctive reggae flavour. Psalm 137 and a couple of phrases from Psalm 19 are included here.

25 Jan 2018

Rome pays homage to Geneva: Psalm 42

Even Roman Catholics sing the Genevan Psalms on occasion. Here it is the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, 7 June 2012, beginning with a mass at the Basilica of Saint John the Lateran, followed by a procession to Saint Mary Major and a eucharistic blessing. One assumes that Pope Benedict XVI is the white-robed man in the vehicle.

24 Jan 2018

Le Psautier génévois: Psaume 2

Arrangements by Claude Goudimel and Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck:

16 Jan 2018

Psałterz Dawidów: Psalm 91

And here's one more:

Psałterz Dawidów: Psalm 25

The traditional western liturgy prescribes the singing of Psalm 25 on the first sunday of Advent. This particular version is from the Psałterz Dawidów once again. Like the Genevan Psalter, it too is a metrical psalter in which the texts are rhymed in accordance with repeated stanzas. But the music is highly sophisticated and would not be appropriate for congregational singing. This is definitely for a trained choral ensemble. It deserves more exposure outside of Poland.

Psałterz Dawidów: Psalm 1

This is a live performance of the exquisite Psalm 1 from the Psałterz Dawidów as sung by the Collegium Vocale Bydgoszsz in 2010:

10 Jan 2018

Psałterz Dawidów: Psalm 81

Psalm 81 from the Polish-language David's Psalter is here performed by the Choir of the West Pomeranian Technical University of Szczecin, Poland, directed by Szymon Wyrzykowski. The venue is the St. Catharine's German Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kiev, Ukraine.

1 Jan 2018

The Scottish Psalter, 1788 edition

My unfailingly thoughtful wife gave me a wonderful gift for Christmas this year: a 230-year-old copy of the 1650 Scottish Psalter. To be precise, this is "The Psalms of David in Metre, Allowed by the Authority of the General Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland, and appointed to be sung in congregations and families," printed in Glasgow by J. and M. Robertson, dated MDCCLXXXVIII. This was not, of course, the only complete metrical psalter published in English. The Sternhold & Hopkins Psalter had already been in use in England for nearly a century, and much later would come Tate & Brady's New Version Psalter of 1696. But the Scottish Psalter has proved much more durable than its competitors and has lived in the hearts of English-speaking Reformed Christians for more than three and a half centuries.

29 Dec 2017

Psałterz Dawidów: Psalm 47

Here is a lively performance of Psalm 47 from the Polish-language Psałterz Dawidów:

21 Dec 2017

The Concordia Psalter 2

I thought I had said everything that needed to be said in my review of the Concordia Psalter nine days ago, but now that I am taking a closer look at it, it seems appropriate to comment on its usability for actually chanting the Psalms. As I mentioned then, the collection contains a number of tones for chanting. Although chant can be quite complex, containing multiple melismata in quick succession, the chant tones offered here are quite simple and, with practice, can be easily sung by a congregation and certainly by a competent choir. As far as I can tell, the pointing of the Psalms is the same in this volume as in the Treasury of Daily Prayer and Reading the Psalms with Luther (2007), both Concordia publications.

Daily prayer: a new pattern

Nearly forty years ago, I discovered the practice of daily prayer when I purchased a copy of Herbert Lindemann's The Daily Office in the bookstore at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. Since then I have prayed through the Psalms on a regular basis and through the Bible itself using the Daily Office Lectionary published originally in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer (BCP) of the Episcopal Church (United States) and subsequently republished in the hymnals and worship books of other denominations.

The major difficulty with this lectionary is that it does not prescribe reading through the entire Old Testament, instead taking the reader only through key highlights. I followed this for a number of years but then grew dissatisfied with this approach. So I decided several years ago to maintain the lectionary for the New Testament but with the Old to follow a lectio continua, or simply to read the entirety in course, which would take anywhere from between two and a half years to as many as five, depending on whether I included the Apocrypha or on whether I actually read an entire chapter each day. In this fashion I would read the whole of scripture over an indefinite period of time.

12 Dec 2017

The Concordia Psalter 1

Although this blog is devoted primarily to the singing of metrical psalmody, it is appropriate occasionally to highlight an excellent prose psalter, especially one designed for liturgical use. The Concordia Psalter is one of these and merits close attention. Concordia Publishing House of St.Louis is the publishing arm of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, whose Canadian branch is known as the Lutheran Church-Canada. This is the denomination that sponsors The Lutheran Hour, the decades-old radio broadcast that has aired weekly since 1930. Over the years, Concordia has published top-quality devotional materials, including Herbert Lindemann's out-of-print classic, The Daily Office (1965), which had a profound impact on my own prayer life when I first discovered it in the late 1970s. More recently, Concordia produced a Treasury of Daily Prayer, an oversized volume enabling individuals and families to pray the Daily Office in their own homes. (Its sheer heft would prevent them using it elsewhere!)